Psych: A Nightmare On State Street Review

It is Psych's penultimate episode, but sadly it is also ultimately a dud even with a cool Bruce Campbell cameo.

I was really hoping that the second to last episode of my beloved Psych would be something to behold but was monumentally disappointed by the time the credits rolled. While I applaud the show for trying something new with this schlock horror-fest, the episode just does not find any kind of groove. It’s rare when an episode of Psych is not repeat worthy, but this one was a total bomb. While the plethora of guest stars was entertaining, “A Nightmare on State Street” just went off the reservation.

For eight seasons, I have regaled in the adventures of Shawn and Gus, and it has been a delight to review the show during its home stretch. However, I couldn’t in good conscience give a pass or recommendation to “A Nightmare on State Street.” The episode, directed by star James Roday, just does not have any real narrative flow, and instead feels like a malaise of scenes strung together. Sure, it was cool to see Mira Sorvino, William Zabka, Phylicia Rashad, Curt Smith, and other ‘80s mainstays in one episode, but it did not gel into a cohesive whole.

It follows Gus and his trouble sleeping while under the care of dream therapist Dr. Simpson, played with aplomb by Bruce Campbell. The character actor really sells the doofy doctor, but they fall into a trap where the audience does not know which segments are Gus’ dreams and which are the actual case.

Dean Cameron (Chainsaw from Summer School) is also aboard as Zach the cable guy who is falsely arrested for the murder of coach Derek Bagg. While I laughed out loud that perennial bully Zabka was named “Coach D-Bagg,” the murder did not take place until a good 25 to 30 minutes into the episode. The absence of Juliet and Chief Vick, and the minute presence of Henry and Lassie are deeply felt. The vibe of the whole team is thrown off without those important characters, and the void is filled with a never-ending supply of horror movie clichés that include zombies, as well as a whole black and white sequence.  While I wholly believe that Shawn and Gus are two of the best TV characters of the last decade, even their charms cannot save this installment.

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In the end, we are left with a feeling of confusion at just what exactly is happening and which parts are real. Normally, I trust the direction of an off episode and follow it to the end, but I found myself looking at the clock to see how much more time was left for this week’s Psych session. This is most definitely a rarity and it totally bums me out to have to write a “bad” review because I will miss Psych like crazy. Throughout the eight seasons, I became enamored with the power of the pineapple and the wonder that is Santa Barbara, California. The mysteries and pratfalls that the guys fell into have allowed me to gorge on season DVDs for years. If there is one show that I recommend to people, it is most definitely Psych. Unfortunately I just cannot suggest this episode as the best representation of the show’s canon. While the completist in me says “watch the episode,” I do not feel that this is how the guys want to be remembered. Hopefully, next week’s Series Finale will be everything that we have loved about Psych and then some. Know what I mean? I know you know…

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2 out of 5